The Ten S’s of Training and Performance

The five basic S`s of Training and Performance:

1. Stamina (Endurance)

  • The sensitive period for stamina occurs at the onset of the adolescent growth spurt. Aerobic capacity training is recommended before athletes reach PHV. Aerobic power should be introduced progressively after PHV when growth rate decelerates.

2. Strength

  • The sensitive period for strength in girls is immediately after PHV or at the onset of menarche, while for boys it is 12 to 18 months after PHV.

3. Speed

  • For boys, the first sensitive period for speed occurs between the ages of 7 and 9 years, and the second occurs between the ages of 13 and 16. For girls, the first sensitive period for speed occurs between the ages of 6 and 8 years, and the second occurs between the ages of 11 and 13.

4. Skill

  • The sensitive period for optimal skill training generally takes place between the ages of 9 and 12 years for boys and between the ages of 8 and 11 for girls, or more precisely before the onset of adolescent growth spurt (the “skill hungry” years).

5. Suppleness (Flexibility)

  • The sensitive period for suppleness for both genders occurs between the ages of 6 and 10. Although flexibility training during puberty yields good results, special attention should be paid to flexibility during the adolescent growth spurt, due to stresses on muscles, ligaments and tendons by the rapidly growing bones.
An additional five S`s have been identified as important to building a complete and holistic plan for developing athletes. These include the following considerations:

6. Structure/Stature

  • Stature is the height of a human. In terms of training and performance, it refers to the process where the instructor, coach, teacher or parent records regular measurements before, during and after maturation. The purpose is to track growth and identify the onset of the adolescent growth spurt, PHV and whether athletes are early, average or late maturing. The tracking of stature as a guide to developmental age allows for planning to address the sensitive periods (Viru, 1995; Viru et al., 1998; Viru et al., 1999) of physical development (endurance, strength, speed and flexibility) and skill development. Measurements should be done every three months, measuring standing height, sitting height and arm span. (For further information see The Role of Monitoring Growth in Long-Term Athlete Development – Sport for Life Resources p. 74).

7. Schooling

  • In designing an effective training program, the demands of school must be considered. These include integrating school academic loads and duties, school related stresses, and the timing of exams. When possible, training camps and competition tours should complement, not conflict, with the timing of major schools academic events.

8. (p)Sychology – Mental Fitness

  • Mental fitness concepts and strategies can be introduced to athletes at an early age. Initially, this involves instilling foundational principles of positive attitude, positive focus and imagination, while emphasizing effort and fun. As athletes progress through the seven stages of Long-Term Athlete Development, mental skills and strategies are introduced and developed to help athletes handle the increasing pressures and demands of competitive sport. The acquisition of mental fitness is a dynamic process that fluctuates depending on
    • the time and effort put towards developing the mental skills and attributes, and
    • the athletes’ openness to self-learning and reflecting on competitive experiences.
  • In order to provide athletes with the opportunity to reach their personal performance potential, it is imperative that mental fitness be incorporated throughout their long-term development. (For further information see Mental Fitness for Long-Term Athlete Development – Sport for Life Resources p. 75)

9. Sustenance

  • Training, participation in sport and physical activity and competition can lead to significant levels of fatigue in athletes. Recovery is the process whereby the body rids itself of fatigue. At the same time, the body adapts to the training stimulus and regains the capacity to produce the strength, endurance and power required for other physical activity, training or competition.
  • A variety of methods and modalities can be used to facilitate the recovery process and help the athlete to regain his or her capability to sustain the repeated demands of training, participation or competition. These include nutrition, hydration, rest, sleep and the use of techniques such as massages, contrast baths, ice baths and warm water jets. The need and use of specific recovery strategies, as well as the frequency at which they should be employed, will vary according to the stage of LongTerm Athlete Development and the athlete’s level of competition.
  • Optimal management of the recovery process also requires careful attention be given to the other life activities of the athlete outside of sport. They can also be fairly demanding and represent significant sources of both fatigue and stress.
  • Poor planning, excessive training and participation in too many competitions can all induce severe levels of fatigue. The same detrimental outcome can come from the improper management of the athlete’s recovery process. (For further information see Recovery and Regeneration for Long-Term Athlete Development – Sport for Life Resources p. 76).

10. Socio-Cultural

  • The socio-cultural aspects of sport are significant and must be managed with proper planning. Socialization via sport will ensure that general societal values and norms are internalized through sport participation. This occurs at the community level and as an athlete progresses through the Long-Term Athlete Development stages, leads to international exposure.
  • Exposure to various cultures provides broadening of perspectives, including ethnicity awareness and national diversity. Within the travel schedule, recovery can include education related to the competition location, including history, geography, architecture, cuisine, literature, music and visual arts. With proper planning, sport can offer much more than simply commuting between hotel room and competition.
  • Sport socialization refers to the sport subculture in a particular sport. Sport subcultures are very diverse; just consider the differences between rugby, gymnastics, soccer or swimming subcultures. Within each sport subculture, it is important that coaches and parents guard against group dynamics that create a culture of abuse or bullying. Ethics training should be integrated into training and competition plans at all stages of Long-Term Athlete Development.
  • Overall socio-cultural activity is not a negative distraction or an interference with training or competition activities. It is a positive contribution to development of the participant as a person.

To read the entire Canadian Sport for Life - Long-Term Athlete Development 2.1 resource paper, click here.

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